Stories from the Biomes: moving the outdoor plants
From the beginning of the Biomes project the outdoor horticulture team have been hard at work preparing and moving plants to facilitate the work on the Glasshouses. New paths have been created so the visitors can still access the collections and enjoy the Garden. Access routes have been widened so contractors can get large vehicles on site to carry out the essential works. And new beds have been made to rehome the moved plants.
Moving trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants
The process of digging plants out of the ground reduces the root structure so they are less able to uptake water. The plants are pruned back reducing the canopy, this means the plants will need less water to establish. The principle of this method works no matter the size of the plant, from a small herbaceous plant to a huge tree, they both take water up through the roots and transport it to the leaves.
Herbaceous plants and small shrubs which can be dug out and lifted by hand are transported in wheelbarrows. Whereas larger shrubs and trees are too heavy to lift by hand so they are dug around creating a trench circling the root ball then a tractor is used to scoop them up and transport them across the garden. It is important that plants are out of the ground for as little time as possible so planning ahead and preparing the beds is an important part of the job.
The after care of the plants
The plants that have been moved require a little more TLC than the rest of the outdoor collections, they are closely monitored for signs of ill health, drought, pests or disease.
The larger plants need a bit of extra help to stabilise them while the roots establish. Edinburgh can get very windy, so if a tree or shrub has not had the time to put anchor roots down in its new home, it could be blown over. There are two main types of help, a wooden stake for the smaller trees and shrubs and metal guy ropes for the larger trees.
A very important part of the after care of moved plants is watering. This year has been particularly dry throughout winter and summer with a heatwave in July. This has left the ground very dry and the plants very thirsty. As a result, the rain dampens only the top layer of soil making it look wet, but the water is not penetrating deeper where the roots are, so it is important to check the soil and irrigate even when the weather is wet.